Cabesang Tales (A Mini Musical)

At long last! The second (and first official public) staging of “Cabesang Tales” is happening this November. I have composed some music for this show (and lyrics are in poetic Tagalog, dude am I proud of myself) that I’m excited for everyone to hear the arrangements of. We also wrote a couple of new songs for this revamp.

Happy and grateful to have also given my artwork for the show’s main poster. Let’s make the Rizal saga relevant again. Make sure you see it! Tickets are actually limited so make sure you grab yours ASAP.

Backstory’s out!

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It’s been a week since the big event. I’m not a huge fan of celebrating anniversaries, commemoration days, and all that (except for Christmas and Easter perhaps). But realising that seven days have already passed since the project, I can’t help but look back on the previous months and everything that took place in those few, strenuous months—the several episodes and stages that the kids and I have to go through so that a musical event will effectively materialise.

(Heads up! This might sound a little too mushy-gooey. But please bear with me.)

It was a first time for me. First time that I was the “boss”, that I was on top of everything. First time that an entire show has been placed solely on my shoulders. Interestingly, I had to get to grips with how much power and authority I actually possess being the boss, the pilot of the plane. I called the shots, I ran the show. I could do everything that I wanted.

But at the same time, I had to face a myriad of responsibilities and demands, which all have piled up week by week during the preparation season. (Absolute buzzkiller, hey!) Demands from the show itself, from the theme and design, from the group’s purpose, and every single individual’s personal goals. I had to measure up to the group’s standards, my head directors’ standards, the parents’, the audience’s, to my own standards; and somehow find the right balance between all of those.

At one point, It was all just elusive. Listening to and looking over what everybody was saying and expecting, how on earth would you do it? How would I cater for everyone’s needs? How would I wedge everybody’s favourite songs in an 80-minute repertoire? How would I do all these without losing my identity and personal touch? How far could I take it?

It was fearful. It was difficult. There were times when my mind would just go blank, that all the complications around would just swoop me out of my disposition, and got me floating flaccidly with the clouds, pie-faced. Revisions were endless. There were at least twelve drafts produced before we locked in the final songs and their order in the setlist. If a particular number didn’t work (in terms of music and/or impact), then it needed to be either replaced or completely cut, regardless of the hours spent in preparing, arranging and polishing it.

As the director, I had to turn limitations into possibilities, and into actual acts. I had to enable the kids to work and succeed on their own pace, but without sacrificing the desired artistic quality; and making sure that only their strengths and passions were displayed on the night, and nothing that could vitiate their image as budding artists. It was also my job to look after their motivation, their engagement and enjoyment in the project. I mean, they’re kids still. You gotta give them a reason to stay focused and driven.

Oftentimes, it would just feel like the project was in a precarious state. Criticisms were getting too hurtful and alarming. Everybody was feeling exhausted. But then, there’s no turning back anymore because the date has been set, the venue’s been booked, the ad’s been released, people have been informed about it. So quitting was never quite an option at all. There were lots of frustrations, arguments, breakdowns. But we had to stick together and believe that it will all work out in the end.

Alright, for a supposedly “experienced”, “professional” person like me, I’m sure everything that I just said would just sound lame and dumb. You could be thinking, “Oh, what is wrong with this guy? He should know what he’s doing! He’s already done heaps of that! He’s already earned a lot under his belt. He should be ashamed of himself.”

I mean, I’ve been in several productions before, directed music for a lot of events and stuff. But for some reason, this one’s quite different. It felt like I went miles and miles down to zero, and start everything from scratch—and starting from scratch never felt so intense and gruelling. I was bogged down on the ground with all the clutters and scattered pieces, and I had to assemble them all together right along with my own self.

Now, I’m sorry if all those sounded so melodramatic. It was not the intention! You might even think that I am exposing my own weak side. Well, you may think that but it’s precisely what happened. And you can’t succeed until you learn how to face your weaknesses. I am a work in progress who is currently going through a rigorous state of refinement before I can self-actualise. And the best thing to do while in this phase is to be open, honest and accepting of your own flaws and limitations; and just be teachable. Strip away the prejudice and the inhibitions. Shut up and just do it!

When you saw the show, it may have looked so smooth, so easy and simple. Yet behind all the fun and fluidity were the many challenges, failures and hardships experienced individually and as a group. But like what I said, I believe that the group managed to pick ourselves up, and overcome the hurdles, and proved that determination will enable us to survive.

And I am just very proud of our kids who have displayed determination, maturity and stamina in order to deliver a good show. Of course, they’ve done that the past year for Wait For It and have succeeded in a lot of ways. But this time, I have witnessed it first hand, and got involved in many of their personal struggles, insecurities, uncertainties, confusions. Nevertheless, not one person gave up. Not one person stepped back and chose comfort and convenience. Everybody was on board regardless if rehearsals were demanding, boring, uncomfortable; even though their Kuya Rie nagged, complained and criticised nonstop.

I will also never forget how incredible it is to be mentored by our head directors, Tito Ferdie and Tita Geraldine “Ging”, who we normally call the Master Yoda-Queen Bae tandem. This time, I felt like a kid sitting on their lap, listening attentively to their stories, lectures and important lessons that have become my nourishment in this journey. They did not give up on me, and they choose to deal with my tantrums and crack-ups.

I cannot imagine doing this venture without them. I cannot imagine myself finishing anything without their invaluable say. They were the lifeline of this project, of this group. They’re the flickering rhythm you see on the cardiac monitor after someone got revived from a near-death scene—that after you see it, you know that you are safe, the chaos is over. They are my doctors. They are my role models. They have become Mom-and-Dad.

Again, I will never get tired of thanking our amazing parents for the indubitable and unrelenting love and support. They drove us to rehearsals, prepared our meals, opened up their homes for rehearsals, spent their weekends and lots and lots of time helping in the production and making sure that we didn’t get hungry and dehydrated. I wish I could state everything in detail to express how thankful we are. They are our champions!

Many could be wondering why a long-af essay as a backstory for a 1.5 hour long gig. It’s just a gig. Well, we in Filozart, do not just prioritise the end product of our undertakings. We value and and attach so much importance to the creative process—everything that is discovered, learned, experienced and solidified throughout this stage. It is where connections are formed, relationships are strengthened, and bonds are treasured. It is what we all remember and take home with us after the lights have gone out and the curtains closed. It’s what engenders growth. It’s what whips up the motivation to become bigger, better and bolder. It’s what makes us Filozart.

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Rie Manaloto

R.

In the trailers

The long wait is over. #UNPLUGGED is finally happening tomorrow! Filozart Youth is all set and stoked to bring you another product of our passions and hardships.

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Over the few months of working on this project, the gang has experienced so many things–fun, failure, unending revisions; our patience and our potentials have been tested, questioned, and challenged. We were criticised enormously, punched on every side, pushed to our limits. Again, it was the time this sequence of events has to take place for this venture to succeed.

And I absolutely believe that we got through it, that once again we managed to overcome these challenges, and kept our passion and love for what we do. And it behooves us to thank our parents for the relentless support and guidance all throughout this short but strenuous journey. There’s no way to repay them for their many efforts and sacrifices to make this event possible.

That being so, you all need to come and see the show! We’re very excited to share with you our songs and our stories. It’s going to be a night of fun and jam. So make sure that you do not miss this event!

I got you a few teaser-trailers that we have produced from our rehearsal days, and to also help you get to know our kids. We tried to give them at least 30 seconds of fame! And although what stands out is the weirdness and unlikeness of the group, we assure you that we will try our best to act “normal” on the night!

 

#UNPLUGGED: Your Songs, Your Playlists, Your Stories.
Friday, 20th of November at Pabico Club 55, Mount Druitt
Doors open at 6:00 PM

 

 

Rie Manaloto

Let me have an I-know-that-person moment.

Let me have an I-know-that-person moment. Incredibly proud of this star on the rise, real newsmaker, Marlisa! This photos was taken in January this year for a charity concert. God bless all your paths! This is just the beginning.

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Rie Manaloto Marlisa Punzalan

Gary V in Sydney!

Seriously, seriously one of the best Filipino artists to have graced the Australian concert stage ever. Talk about blowing the roof off a concert hall by an enormous amount of energy and brilliance, and relentless cheers and shouts from the crowd.

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Dubbed as “Mr Pure Energy” Gary Valenciano has come back to Oz for a series of shows in celebration of his 30th year in show business. The tour has kicked off in Sydney, the first of his five destinations all around Straya. The concert was a sell-out!

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After those three fruitful decades of superstardom, THE Gary V has proven that he still is the unbeatable and insurmountable “Mr Pure Energy”—a powerful, whirling force of nature; energy personified.

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The concert royalty also revealed that he will be turning 50 this year, which I find really astonishing as he does not even look or sound like it. His moves remain fiery and electrifying. His voice still reflects his dynamic and beautiful soul. His energy is just as infectious and dumbfounding as always. All those put together, Gary V has won over the crowd, singing some of his most popular hits ever like “Di Bale Na Lang” that has set the concert hall on fire; “Di Na Natuto” (which, clearly, fired up the women in the audience, I must say); “Babalik Ka Rin” that got everybody nostalgic about the good ol’ days back home; and many more.

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Gary performing “Babalik Ka Rin”

One of the most special parts of the concert is when Gary seamlessly and soulfully sang a medley of soap opera theme songs that he popularised (and probably made successful) or “Gary-fied” as he’s absolutely had his own way of personalising these old OPM tunes, breathing new life to these compositions, and making them sound new, majestic and glorious. The songs have got the crowds singing along to them (which was good, but really annoying); some were left in tears (and that includes my mother because she loved all those teleserye’s that Gary sang the theme songs of).

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He is gifted on the piano, too! He has amazing improv skills. No wonder he’s a great composer.

Gary proudly introduced his eldest son, Paolo Valenciano who has been making a name in the music industry by being the band vocalist of “Salamin”, and by co-directing Gary’s “Arise Gary V 3.0” anniversary concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in the Philippines a few months ago. Accordingly, Paolo will also be directing Toni Gonzaga’s anniversary concert at the Mall of Asia Arena this coming October. What I am most excited about is that he is set to release his first solo album quite soon (which I already had a preview of, and dude, we all gotta watch out for this man!). All these must have really made the music icon an extremely proud dad.

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I am a fan of this artist!

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The father-and-son tandem sang a medley of popular Beatles’ hits, high-powered, melding pop, rock and a bit of funk with so much intensity and authority. They also did an inspirational ballad mashup featuring Gary’s all-time popular hit, “I Will Be Here”, and Martin Nievera’s “I’ll Be There.”

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The father-and-son duet!

The arrangements for all the songs he performed in the concert were astounding and compelling. Thanks to the genius of Mr Pure Energy himself who has redesigned and revivified these classic tunes. The audience were thrilled and mesmerised to hear his very own classics rearranged, infused with mainstream beats and dance-flavoured sounds, like his “Hataw Na”, “Look In Her Eyes” and “Eto Na Naman” (arranged by his other son, Gab Valenciano) that had the audience on their feet, jumping and dancing along while trying to capture each moment on their tech gadgets. Incredible multitasking, I must say.

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Filipino musical director and arranger, Mon Faustino.

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When everybody realised that the show was nearing its end, the crowd clamoured for “More! More!” after every song that finished. And just like any other show, some unexpected glitch (like a major one, i.e., power failure of some sort) tried to ruin the show and stopped Gary from performing with a backing track. But the concert icon managed the predicament very professionally and proactively, and came back for more upbeat singing and grooving.

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That’s like one of his signature poses.

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Special filming for “SayTay”. Interesting.

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He has a thing for percussion, too! Incredible.

Saving the best for last, Mr Pure Energy sang his popular Christian hit, my personal favourite, “Take Me Out of the Dark” with a message about trusting and committing our lives to God while sharing his life’s experiences, miracles and important lessons.

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Overall, it has been an unforgettable experience. It was very unfortunate that there wasn’t an album signing sesh, and it really frustrated me because I was really looking forward to meeting him and Paolo face to face. Nevertheless, I know and I am quite sure that that wouldn’t the last time I’d see them.

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Taking his last bow.

It has been a massive privilege to have watched a great Filipino icon perform live and showcase his immense gift of singing and performing, alongside his great gift of inspiring people and communicating God to them. Genuine excellence. Natural cool-ness. Incredible talent. He makes me more proud to be Pinoy.

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So surprised to see Maki Ricafort in his band. I am a huge fan of this guy! He’s awesome!

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With Maki!!!!!!!! Didn’t get to take a photo with Gary and Paolo, but at least I have one with Maki!

(Photo redisplayed) Here’s Paolo Valenciano’s pre-release, sample copy (or like a preview copy) of his first solo album. Man, I’m loving it! The songs are sounding quite terrific. Can’t wait for the full version! Watch out for this guy!

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Rie Manaloto

This May!

This May!

It is just staggering to realise that it’s only a few weeks ’til the concert. Plus, it’s mothers’ month. My siblings’ birthday month. Also, my assessment month. I can’t even begin to describe how packed it’s going to be. But … Continue reading

Two months away!

Two months away!

The Carol Banawa show is about two months away! Time is flying like a scorching arrow. And the concert team has started to gear up for the performances and the staging stuff as rehearsals will be starting in a few … Continue reading

Seeing Australia Day in a Different Light

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Land of the Favoured and Free

Happy Australia Day! Today we celebrate our greatness and recognise our common bond and unique diversity down under.

I feel so privileged and blessed to be living in this country, the land of the favoured and free. I am thankful to be living in a country where I can freely express myself, speak out my faith and beliefs.

For the past how many years, Straya has been truly home. It has given me so many opportunities in so many aspects of life. I can’t imagine what I could’ve become if I wasn’t brought here in this land. And it just gratifies me every time I look back and see how far I have come along, how much I have learned, and how fortunate I have really been.

It’s that time of the year when we get to pause for a moment and just reflect on what it means to be living in a land truly abounding in nature’s gifts and beauty rich and rare.

However, today isn’t only about celebrating everything that’s great in Australia and being thankful for the new lease on life. I really believe that it is also the time to emphasise the need for a strong and consistent intercession for Australia and its people for the good of the entire country. We must continue to pray for our government, the Prime Minister, the country’s leaders, lawmakers, peacemakers and all the individuals that run the nation. Let us all pray for wisdom and discernment, for good will, peace, unity and direction amongst all the people in authority.

Let us pray that this country continues to seek God and His will, to love and to serve Him, and to be heading always towards the right direction where He can be found and where His name is glorified.

Let us not stop praying for the military, for the soldiers, the people who guard our borders. Let’s pray for safety and protection in fervent hope that there will no longer be fighting and warfare.

In a place of thankfulness, let us continue to pray for the people, that we will all just live in peace and learn how to love one another and embrace our diversity. May we get to know ourselves more by knowing and focusing on God and His love and always putting Him first in everything.

And for the things that are beyond our control, let us always remember to cast our troubles on God’s shoulders and give Him our earnest faith and trust because He holds everything in His hands and has a plan for everybody. His will and His goodness shall always prevail.

Above all, I wish everyone a God-infused year and a peaceful and prosperous life this 2014! Happy Australia Day, my mates!

 

 

R.

EARLY PLUG: CAROL BANAWA’S SHOW IN SYDNEY THIS 2014!

EARLY PLUG: CAROL BANAWA’S SHOW IN SYDNEY THIS 2014!

Can I just say that 2014 is definitely my year? After the success of the charity project that took place only yesterday, and a play in-the-making that’s due later this year; not to mention it’s also my Master’s year in uni, … Continue reading

Typhoon Haiyan Appeal Official Website

United.2.jpg.opt824x796o0,0s824x796Typhoon Haiyan Appeal Official Website

Check out the official website of the Typhoon Haiyan Appeal. Get to know the people behind the cause by navigating to the “Our Team and Partners” page.

The concert is on Sunday, the 12th of January. For more information, check out the poster on the website or send me a private message. Thanks!

Pasek and Paul performance featured on UWS Music page

CLICK THE PHOTO TO WATCH THE PERFORMANCE.

Another video of myself is out. But this time, I was not the one who published it. I was startled. The recording of one of the songs in my Men On and Off Broadway project was uploaded by the official UWS Music online account on YouTube. I can’t really say that it was done without proper consent because we had to sign some paper that deals with copyright, permission to use or republish such stuff and in which I actually agreed. But really, what a privilege to be actually chosen to sort of represent the UWS Music course and its tagline that says, “There is more to music at UWS.” Very flattering. And I’m quite grateful.

Just a small trivia you might wanna know, this song from Edges: The Musical called “Along The Way” by Pasek and Paul has always been a dream performance piece. From the very first time I heard the song and watched it being performed in various interpretations, I fell in love with it and knew straight away that I would be performing it one day. And so, came Spring and the ‘Rep and ID’ unit that allowed us to design our own project (i.e., our personally designed musical repertoire). With no qualms, I included the song in my repertoire, and by good fortune, was able to find a pianist who could accompany me and keep up with my fuzziness. As bountiful fortune would have it, she came signed and sealed, in the name of Patricia Wong. The rest is what we could call history.

Despite the flaws of this performance (e.g., (1) mic’s mounted up on mic stands were scattered around the stage as I entered which made the singing SO uncomfortable. I tried to get rid of them fluidly and subtly while actually singing but I tell you it was one of the most awkward moments of my life. I utterly hate ‘adverse’ surprises; (2) the FAIL falsetto in the end. I did prepare for it and in my rehearsal sessions I had always done it perfectly (Like, c’mon I’m a falsetto maven). Nevertheless, perhaps it is true that every once in a while there are things that happen when least expected), I am very grateful to the Lord for making this ‘dream’ come into view. I was blessed with the right resources, the right people and an adequate amount of time to prepare well for it. But I know this ain’t the last time I’m doing this song. And next time, I’ll make sure that it’ll be bigger and better. 

TYPHOON HAIYAN FUNDRAISING CONCERT

TYPHOON HAIYAN FUNDRAISING CONCERT

Love doing charity and participating in projects created for a good cause. By good fortune, I have been privileged to be taking part in yet another charity event, a post NY fundraising concert for the typhoon Haiyan survivors. The ONE … Continue reading

Performing ‘I Bought Me A Cat’ by Aaron Copland

CLICK THE PHOTO TO WATCH THE PERFORMANCE.

Yes, you read it right. It might seem bizarre but yes, I did manage to bring off such a seemingly insuperable piece. Alright, I was exaggerating. Anyway, here’s my recorded performance of ‘I Bought Me A Cat’ by Aaron Copland. I made this folk/art song a part of my final performance project for my performance unit entitled “Men On and Off Broadway”. It is obviously not a Broadway piece but the song can be used with a huge amount of theatricality. That’s why it was plunked on the ‘Intermezzo’ section, the break from the Broadway songs. Despite the inflicted humour (people were actually LOL-ing during the performance but couldn’t be heard on the recording) and a small flare of self-humiliation, I am hoping that I have been able to give it justice and a decent interpretation it deserves. Piano accompaniment is done by my extremely talented colleague, Shanice Vella. CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO WATCH THE VIDEO OR CLICK HERE.